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Writing Progress: Week Ending September 3, 2011

September 5, 2011

It was another unspectacular week on the writing front:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 392 net new words 
  • Other Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 392 words

It was a tough week, time-wise.  I lost a whole writing day to the day job.  That happens, sometimes.  You’ve got a big project, and it’s due before you leave, and people are depending on you.  And sometimes you don’t find out it’s due today until you get in that morning and see it in your e-mail.  I love my job right now, but love it or not, late days can be emotionally and mentally exhausting.  It’s a good exhaustion – one of knowing you’ve done something important – but it’s hard to sit down and write when that happens.  And if it’s late enough, you don’t really have time anyway – there’s just enough to eat a late dinner and go to bed.  And there was also a bit of the more usual personal time with family and Dear Wife.  If I’m going to lose free time to work, it comes out of writing time first, not family time – and in fact sometimes when that happens you have to redouble your family time (which means even less writing time) because that’s how you recuperate.

This week I didn’t work at all on “The Book of M”: I focused exclusively on “Story of G”. Editing, as it turns out, is slower than writing.  When you’re writing you’re not going back and double-checking when you’ve written or making sure it makes sense.  You’re not worried about “word echoes” or the quality of the prose.  You’re worried about the story and about the characters and about getting the feel right.  All that comes out in the writing.  But when you’re editing, you’re at a different level. 

As I’m editing, I am writing new material, as exhibited by the net non-zero wordcount for the week.  I’ll write a short bit to add description or depth.  I’ll add a facial expression to better capture a character’s emotions.  Or I’ll change some bit to clarify my intention, or add some internal monologue.  But much of the time I spend rereading what I’ve written and thinking about how it fits with the greater story, or consulting my notes on my editing plan, or reviewing comments from first readers, or doing word-for-word replacements.  So there’s a lot of work going on in the background that doesn’t manifest as wordcount.

I’m proud to say that I’m about a little more than half-way through the revision and editing of “Story of G”.  If I can keep it up, I should definitely be able to finish it in time for a September 30th deadline for the current quarter of the Writers of the Future contest.  I feel really good about this story.  My last story – about a year ago – was an honorable mention, but I feel that this story is better.  We’ll see.  I’m contemplating whether I need another round of reads and edits after I finish this, just to make sure it’s as polished as it can be… but I’m leaning toward just doing a quick clean-up read myself just to make sure the prose is clean and that I’ve dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s, so to speak.

As for “Book of M”… well… today was my “deadline” to finish my backstory and pre-plotting work.  And I’m way off from that.  I’d switched over from a “writing the history of the world” method to an “outlining the history of the world” method, but I never really got to see what I could do with that before I switched gears into “Story of G”.  That, and I still have to write out character bios and other details, as well as a decent outline of the book itself.  That’s my general plan going forward: finish some outline of the history, write character bios (so far I have 2 written) and then outline the book.  Luckily for me, Dear Wife has extended my deadline through Columbus Day.  Hurrah!  I’m confident I can make it by Columbus Day.  I’m probably not going to finish the book, as a whole, in the year timeframe I’d set for myself from when I first started (in late May), but hopefully I won’t be but a month or two late – so here’s aiming for the end of July 2012!

 How was your writing week?

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2011 7:23 pm

    Editing the novel is definitely taking longer than the first draft, but not every story’s the same I find 😉 My word count’s probably only about 100 words, but I’ve been planning edits. Sometimes I look forward to long weekends, but they’re usually too busy to get any writing done.

    • September 6, 2011 9:01 am

      Yeah, that’s true: long weekends aren’t necessarily good for writing productivity. I find my writing productivity thrives on a predictable schedule – even if that’s a schedule with less overall free time. Adding a whole free day to the weekend makes me feel like I should fill that day up with the sorts of fun activities that I can’t do on a regular work day.

  2. September 6, 2011 1:22 am

    It’s amazing how much effort editing a few thousand words can take! ‘Cause usually it’s not just “editing;” there’s some “rewriting” thrown in, as well. And I’m glad you’re feeling confident about your story. Makes the work all worthwhile, huh? 😀

    Last week I finished editing/rewriting the couple of chapters that had me tripped up for, well, an entire week before I was really able to fix anything. It’s depressing spending double that time on the same (well, only partially same) 8,300 words, lol. It’s like, “I just want to move on!” But you can’t because you know it’s not right yet and you need to fix it now so you don’t have to come back and edit it again.

    I don’t want more heavy edits after this pass, though, so I did what I could. I’m still concerned by two or three paragraphs in different places throughout, whether I explained stuff clearly enough without sounding all technical and altogether dispelling the vaguer, “magical” aspect of it (the whole magic + technology ordeal), but I guess the end verdict is up to beta readers/editors to judge. (Hey, if they are convinced, them I’m good.)

    Anyhow, I’m looking forward to the next few chapters this week. Less demanding, conceptually. I’m not so worried about getting these next ones “right” so much as I am about spiffing them up. Nothing heavy, thank heavens. I think I’m about due for some lighter edits after last week…

    • September 6, 2011 9:03 am

      Yeah, reaching that point where you can think to yourself “This is actually really good… in fact it’s better than most of my other stuff”… That’s a good feeling to have.

  3. September 6, 2011 8:02 am

    Editing is indeed slower. As I mentioned last week, I was working on two chapters at once, and the one which was made from recycled materials definitely took more work than the one I wrote from scratch. They’re both done now, and it turns out they’re a bit longer than the earlier chapters (not counting the first chapter, which is probably too long). #5 is 2,900 words, and #6 is 3,136. I think that’s pretty much where the chapter breaks have to fall, though, but we’ll see what the readers say.

    • September 6, 2011 9:05 am

      Yeah, depending on genre and other factors, that can be a pretty long chapter. On the other hand, my old, former WIP had an average chapter length of about 4,000 words or so. I think it depends on genre, though I think mysteries tend toward shorter chapters.

      • September 6, 2011 8:02 pm

        A Sane Woman (novel #1) was a mystery, and the chapters averaged around 3,000 words (three were quite a bit longer, the rest shorter). The longest chapters of U-town (novel #2, not a mystery) were over 12,000 words. So, ~3,000 doesn’t look so big. Maybe that’s my normal chapter length. 🙂

      • September 7, 2011 9:24 am

        Well, that seems a fine and reasonable natural length for a chapter. 😉

  4. September 7, 2011 3:01 pm

    You know what, even if you don’t accomplish all you would like to, you’ve still accomplished something. Family time is definitely an accomplishment in my book. And all that editing will pay off and your story will be better than ever.

    • September 7, 2011 3:11 pm

      Thanks! And I hope so (on the story). Family time, though, is simply a matter of priorities. Writing is important to me. But my family is even more important.

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